With the recent renewed interest in interplanetary and deep space exploratory missions, the Red Planet, Mars, which has captured people's imagination for centuries, has again become a center of attention. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a series of Mariner missions performed fly-by investigations of the Mars surface and atmosphere. Later, in the mid 1970s, the data gathered by these earlier Mariner missions provided the basis of the much-publicized Viking missions, whose main objective was to determine the possibility of extraterrestrial life on Mars. More recently, with the dramatic changes in international politics, ambitious joint manned missions between the United States and the Soviet Union have been proposed to be launched in the early 21st century. In light of these exciting developments, the Spacecraft Design course, which was newly established at UCLA under NASA/USRA sponsorship, has developed its curriculum around a design project: the synthesis of an unmanned Martian landing probe. The students are required to conceive a preliminary design of a small spacecraft that is capable of landing at a designated site, collecting soil samples, and then returning the samples to orbit. The goal of the project is to demonstrate the feasibility of such a mission. This preliminary study of an interplanetary exploration mission has shown the feasibility of such a mission. The students have learned valuable lessons about the complexity of spacecraft design, even though the mission is relatively simple.